10 Best Black Paper Sketchbooks for Artists to Explore New Ways of Seeing

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Looking for a Black Paper Sketchbook?

I love working on black paper because it forces you to look at your subject matter in a new way. Working on black paper means you don’t have the illuminating light white paper under your medium. In fact, black paper actually absorbs the light and deepens or darkens the colors you are working with.

Black paper is a great surface to draw on because it offers you a very different art-making experience. White paper (or canvas) is really the norm in terms of a drawing surface, so by using black paper we extend our creative thinking and push new boundaries in our art-making.

Drawing on black paper offers us a new challenge in which to grow and develop our drawing skills. Mostly it’s a lot of fun and with the right medium drawing on black paper can be beautiful and incredibly striking.

A black paper sketchbook is a great tool to have as an artist because it provides an opportunity to draw, paint, doodle or just experiment on a paper color that is different to the standard white paper sketchbook. You have to really focus on building up the highlights in your subject matter – rather than shading the shadows as you would if you were working on white paper.

[For more tips on how to draw on black paper read my article Drawing on Black Paper]

So now you need to choose a black paper sketchbook that best suits your needs?
Below is my recommended list of the 10 Best Black Paper Sketchbooks.

black paper sketchbook in the middle with paint on the right hand side and brushes on the left

10 Best Black Paper Sketchbooks

Canson XL Series Black Drawing Paper: Best Sketchbook for Drawing

Canson is known for its high-quality materials and is hugely popular with artists around the world. This particular sketchbook, the Canson XL Series, is 9″ x 12″ and is spiral bound on the side.

Unfortunately, the 9″ x 12″ page size means this sketchpad can’t be slipped into your pocket, but it does provide a good surface area and you will certainly have enough space to explore different media on it!

Having a side spiral bind means that the Canson sketchbook can be easily flipped open and lays flat when open – this is a really important factor to consider when choosing a sketchbook.

This sketchbook contains 40 sheets of acid-free paper and is fade resistant so your artwork will last a long time! The weight of the paper is 150gsm and is perfect for colored pencils, acrylic markers, opaque pens, inks, gouache, and pastel art.

This sketchbook is recommended for both beginner and professional artists.

Premium Black Paper Sketchbook

The premium black paper sketchbook has a lovely vintage quality to it because of the faux leather cover and the heavy, 110gsm, archival drawing paper.

The pages are micro-perforated so that you can easily and cleanly remove your art to put it on display. This sketchbook feels very sturdy and the pages are well protected due to the firm cover and bookbinding.

This sketchbook does lay flat when open – which means it is easy to work in and you don’t have to hold it open with one hand while drawing in it.

There are 96 sheets of paper which are 5-1/4″ x 8-3/4″. This is a travel-friendly size and means it can be easily slipped in and out of a backpack or bag.

The premium black drawing paper inside this sketchbook is ideal for chalk or oil pastel, colored pencil, gel pen, and other opaque media.

Mod La Vie Sketchbook with Black Pages

This modern black paper sketchbook is beautifully embossed by hand on a vintage 1914 letterpress in North Hollywood! It has an attractive look to it and is wire bound on the side so it can be easily flipped open.

With 80 lb matte black paper, it lays flat and can be propped open in various directions to sketch. For interest sake, the paper in this sketchbook is milled responsibly in Wisconsin, recycled, FSC certified, and ideal for mixed media art.

Perfect for use with gel pens, colored pencils, markers, charcoal, pastel and gouache paint.

Conda 9″ x 12″ Black Sketchbook

This sketchbook is spiral bound in a hardcover. This means you can flip it open and work on the pages inside while pressing on the hard, protective cover. It has 40 sheets of acid-free paper which means your art won’t discolor with age.

The 150gsm black paper is very smooth and lends itself to blending colored pencils or pastel. It is also is quite tough so will withstand strong mark making or erasing of lines.

This black paper sketchbook is perfect for bright colored pens, pencils, pastels and acrylic paint.

OOLY, DIY Cover Sketchbook

The OOLY DIY Sketchbook is a small, travel-sized sketchbook that can be used and carried on the go. It slips in and out of your bag or backpack easily and has a handy elastic band to keep it closed and keep the pages safe.

The cover is matt black and has been left blank so that you can decorate it with your own signature art! This is a fun thing to do, especially if you are using this sketchbook as a personal art journal or a keepsake. You can collage images, sketch, paint, doodle, or even stick stickers on the cover to make it yours!

It has 75 sheets of black paper inside and has a hardbound wire-o craft cover which means it’s is durable and your artwork will be protected. The pages are micro-perforated so that your sketches and drawings can be easily removed if you want to display them.

Black drawing paper sketchbook (PETRONAS TOWERS COVER): Best Value for Money

This sketchbook is good for the beginner artist who is looking to first experiment on black paper before committing to making a finished art iece.

It is really good value for money with 120 black pages. It is 8.5″ x 11″ and is a good size for experimenting and exploring materials. It also has a glossy cover that you can easily clean.

Satumu Black Paper Sketchbook

The Satumu Black Paper Sketchbook comes in three different cover design options: Pink Galaxy, Nebula, or Little Stars. It is an attractive A5 sketchbook – travel-sized and portable with two ribbon markers so you can find your place easily.

It comes with 80 sheets and is hardbound. The paperweight is 110gsm which makes it perfect for drawing, sketching, and doodling with pens, gel pens, markers, sharpies, colored pencils, charcoal, or pastel.

I recommend working in this sketchbook with dry media or very light washes.

Stillman & Birn Nova Series Black Softcover Sketchbook

This is a high-quality, premium sketchbook with heavyweight, 150gsm paper. The paper is strong enough to use wet media on both sides of the page. (For instance, painting layers of gouache over ink.). It also can withstand pressured mark-making and erasing of lines and holds up well to layered light washes of wet media.

This sketchbook has 46 sheets and is 3.5″ x 5.5″ which means it is portable and travel-friendly and is recommended for professional use.

Derwent Black Paper Sketch Book

The Derwent Black Paper Sketch Book is one of my personal favorites. The matt black paper is a lovely deep black and is quite tough so it withstands pressured mark-making and erasing.

It is wire bound and has a hardcover so can be flipped open and worked in on the go. A5 in size means it is travel-friendly and can be easily slipped in and out of your bag or backpack.

The sketchbook comes with 40 perforated sheets of 200gsm paper and is perfect for a variety of mediums, such as pencils, ink-based pens, watercolor, pastel, charcoal, and acrylic paint. I often use my Inktense colored pencils with this sketchbook because of the striking effect!

Pentalic Traveler Pocket Journal

This 8″ x 6″ travel-sized sketchbook has a waterproof cover and an elastic band to hold it closed.

The black paper is slightly textured is best suited for pen, gel pen, pencil, or colored pencil drawing. It has a ribbon marker so you don’t lose your place, and it also has a handy back pocket to slip in your reference images, photos, and ephemera.

Strathmore 400 Series Black: Best Sketchpad for Mixed Media

The Strathmore brand is well known for its high-quality paper. This mixed media pad is used for art studies as well as finished artwork. Ar

This mixed media pad contains 300gsm heavy paper which is ideal for both wet and dry mediums. For instance, you can draw with colored pencil and gel pens, and then paint over it in gouache or acrylic paint.

You can also use liquid glues and varnishes on the surface of the paper and it will hold the medium well without buckling.

The cover can be flipped open easily and the paper is glue-bound – so artwork can be easily removed if you want to put it on display. Many professional artists use this mixed media pad for artwork they sell.

What is the best sketchbook overall?

Canson XL Series Black Drawing Paper Sketchbook

What is a hardbound sketchbook?

A hardbound sketchbook is bound using a hard cover usually made from hard card stock or cardboard.

Best Black Paper Sketchbook A5

Derwent Black Paper Sketch Book

Best Black paper scrapbook

Canson XL Series Black Drawing Paper

Best Black Paper drawing book

Canson XL Series Black Drawing Paper

How do you decorate a black sketchbook?

Your black paper sketchbook can become your own personal art journal documenting your ideas and art processes over time. Decorating the cover of your sketchbook is not only a fun thing to do, but it can be therapeutic to express yourself on the cover.

Your sketchbook will then be unique and be covered in your personal artistic mark.

There are many ways to go about decorating your black paper sketchbook.

  • You can collage photos, images, or magazine pictures on top of the black cover, arranging them in a composition that is meaningful to you. You can also include words and phrases that are significant to you.
  • You can paint on the cover using acrylic, gouache, or poster paint.
  • You can stain the cover by experimenting with oils of different types to deepen the black of the cover or create a sheen.
  • You can glaze or varnish the cover to create a shiny surface. Some glazes or gel mediums have glitter inside them, and so will create a lovely sparkly effect. You can also varnish or glaze over a drawing or painting you have completed on your cover.
  • You can draw, sketch, or doodle on the black cover using various pens, pencils, and markers (see below).

Best Mediums to Use on Black Paper

[Related Post: A List of the Best Junk Journal Supplies]

10 Best Black Paper Sketchbooks


Working in a black paper sketchbook is a liberating and new way to explore your subject matter. The most important thing when working in your sketchbook is to have fun with it and focus on the process! I hope this article has given you some exciting ideas for drawing on black paper and helped you decide which black paper sketchbook to choose to best suit your needs!

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